CTIA: Vodafone CEO warns against 4G standard wars  


LAS VEGAS--The wireless industry needs to rally behind a single 4G standard and not waste resources on technology wars in order to take full advantage of the massive opportunity of the mobile Internet, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said in his CTIA keynote address here today.

“We need to think about LTE as a broad and encompassing standard,” Sarin said. “I was there for the CDMA-TDMA wars, and when the GSM-WCDMA wars were going on. Those wars produced very little. What we need to learn from our history is the need for a common encompassing standard. It would be good to have WiMAX find a home in the TDD section of LTE. The last thing we need is dueling standards to take resources away from developing something that is in the common interests of this industry.”

Wasting time and resources on a standards war puts the entire industry at some risk as wireless carriers face competition from Internet players that are willing to leverage wireless access, reducing service providers to fat pipes, Sarin said. The mobile Internet is the industry’s future, he said, and wireless carriers must be prepared to change to prepare for that future.

“Mobile can become the primary means of accessing the Internet in developed countries and especially in developing countries,” Sarin said. “Our industry is at an important crossroads – we have to invest to bring new services to life. We cannot become just bit pipes for others who make these investments on our behalf. If we get this right, the mobile Internet and associated broadband services will produce an enormous upside. If we get this wrong, the mobile Internet will still produce an enormous upside but that upside will not be experienced by us.”

Sarin also called on the wireless industry to reduce the number of mobile operating systems as well, advocating three or four instead of the current 10 or 12. “I’m not saying we get down to one – we’ve seen that movie,” Sarin said.

Sarin challenged the wireless industry to invest more heavily in customer relationship management systems and location-based technology and to listen to consumer demands for simpler billing options. While proud of his long-time wireless heritage, Sarin said he and others who built wireless networks beginning in the 1980s realize they would build them differently if starting from scratch today, adding that the wireless industry needs to be quicker to adopt the newer systems.

In order to become the primary means of Internet access, the industry needs “high-resolution screens, longer battery lives, touch screens,” Sarin said. “We need to minimize keystrokes, make things intuitive and develop different kinds of Internet services and content that are suitable for mobile.”

“As an industry, we must move from a mindset of providing a channel from which users can access the Internet to designing an Internet experience to suit the mobile channel,” Sarin said.

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